300mm conundrum

Started Mar 28, 2012 | Discussions
sailorboy2
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to ringbill, Mar 28, 2012

Those are very very nice pic's with the 300mm.
Thanks for sharing.
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Paul B Jones
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to Earthlight, Mar 28, 2012

Canon's 300mm f4 is a great lens. It's super sharp and light weight so you can have it with you at all time, even on long hikes. The only catch is that you have to be really close to the subject. For small songbirds anything more than 5 metres/15 feet is too far.

Here are some sample bird shots from Cuba with the 300f4, taken early in my photography "career" before I knew much about cameras at all (so the lens did a lot of the work):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulbjones/sets/72157626555011134/

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Steve Balcombe
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to Gravi, Mar 28, 2012

Gravi wrote:

why not add an 1.4x extender to your 70-200 f4 for now? The lens is sharp enough to still deliver great results with the converter. On par with the 70-300 L lens.

But it's not. The numbers are the same, more or less, but the 70-300L at 300 mm is sharper than the 70-200/4L at 280 mm, and focusing is faster. And no need to fit/remove a TC - the whole range is always available.

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brudy
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to Earthlight, Mar 28, 2012

I have the 300/f4 and the 70-200/f4IS. You'll need to be close with the 300, as others have said. I use the canon 1.4tc with it pretty much all the time and even that's barely enough reach for me (on a 7D). I tried the tc on the 70-200 and hated it - it seemed to pretty much ruin an otherwise amazing lens. Adding a tc has less effect on the 300, IMO, although AF speed, contrast, and bokeh do a suffer a bit.

I have been thinking about picking up the 70-300 though, mostly for my wife and as a single travel lens (I could leave the 300/tc and 70-200 home then).

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Earthlight
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to Steve Balcombe, Mar 29, 2012

Thanks for sharing your view Steve!

I am still undecided.

Earthlight

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Earthlight
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to Paul B Jones, Mar 29, 2012

Paul B Jones wrote:

Canon's 300mm f4 is a great lens. It's super sharp and light weight so you can have it with you at all time, even on long hikes. The only catch is that you have to be really close to the subject. For small songbirds anything more than 5 metres/15 feet is too far.

Yes, for small birds distance is key. I intend to get really really close.

Here are some sample bird shots from Cuba with the 300f4, taken early in my photography "career" before I knew much about cameras at all (so the lens did a lot of the work):

Some excellent pics there. The "terminator owl" almost made me scared! LOL!

Earthlight

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Earthlight
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to brudy, Mar 29, 2012

Thanks Brudy, you make a strong recommendation for a native 300 mm lens, either the prime or the zoom. Maybe I should go with the zoom... The limited aperture just makes me apprehensive.

Oh well, it seems I have a paralysis by analysis sitation here.

Earthlight

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brudy
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to Earthlight, Mar 29, 2012

Since I use the 300+1.4tc I'm always running at 5.6 at a minimum, and I try to stop down if light allows. I definitely miss some because of low light and/or distance (can't crop as much at higher isos as the IQ degrades on my 7D). Here are some I posted in another thread:

Earthlight wrote:

Thanks Brudy, you make a strong recommendation for a native 300 mm lens, either the prime or the zoom. Maybe I should go with the zoom... The limited aperture just makes me apprehensive.

Oh well, it seems I have a paralysis by analysis sitation here.

Earthlight

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scorrpio
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to Earthlight, Mar 29, 2012

Earthlight wrote:

For some reason I try to steer clear of the 100-400. Probably I have seen too many complaints of the IQ.

Why not just rent one for a week and see for yourself? Should cost less than $100...

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Earthlight
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to scorrpio, Mar 29, 2012

scorrpio wrote:

Earthlight wrote:

For some reason I try to steer clear of the 100-400. Probably I have seen too many complaints of the IQ.

Why not just rent one for a week and see for yourself? Should cost less than $100...

Thanks for the suggestion, it is a nice idea. The lens rental thing is pretty much nonexistent where I live, but in case some retailer had a used lens for sale they might be willing to rent it.

Earthlight

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Earthlight
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to brudy, Mar 29, 2012

brudy wrote:

Since I use the 300+1.4tc I'm always running at 5.6 at a minimum, and I try to stop down if light allows. I definitely miss some because of low light and/or distance (can't crop as much at higher isos as the IQ degrades on my 7D). Here are some I posted in another thread:

Excellent pics brudy! I am still totally undecided. Now I am thinking about the 300 prime again and even the 400 f5.6! The 400 prime has a disappointing minimum focus distance though.

I am thinking that I already have short teles so why not get the 400 to make a real difference. Hmm...

Earthlight

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technic
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to Earthlight, Mar 29, 2012

Earthlight wrote:

I am still totally undecided. Now I am thinking about the 300 prime again and even the 400 f5.6! The 400 prime has a disappointing minimum focus distance though.

keep in mind that for close focus (1.5m) you need the 4/300IS, not the older 4/300. This makes it the number one on my list for (flying) dragonflies, as Steve mentioned. Small birds require about the same magnifications ...

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Y0GI
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to Earthlight, Mar 29, 2012

Earthlight wrote:

I am thinking that I already have short teles so why not get the 400 to make a real difference. Hmm...

Earthlight

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That is what I'd get! (I have the 100-400 L)
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Earthlight
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Shot the moon last night with the 70-200 f4 L & a 2X Sigma APO.
In reply to Earthlight, Mar 30, 2012

I used an 18 mpx APS-C sensor camera, 10X live view focus, my sturdiest tripod (Manfrotto #028 and their biggest three way head), MLU & cable release, all the usual precautions.

The pic is heavily cropped and downsized a little. And processed to taste.

I was positively surprised by the final result, although the original pixels cannot be said to be of too high quality.

Next I will try the combo with birds with my 1DsMKII so that I can retain AF.

Earthlight

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Earthlight
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to technic, Mar 30, 2012

technic wrote:

keep in mind that for close focus (1.5m) you need the 4/300IS, not the older 4/300. This makes it the number one on my list for (flying) dragonflies, as Steve mentioned. Small birds require about the same magnifications ...

So true... maybe I could get away with a 25 mm extension tube? That situation would probably occur when shooting from a hide, so an extension tube would be easy to use: the birds would more or less always be at the same distance.

Earthlight

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Earthlight
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to Y0GI, Mar 30, 2012

Y0GI wrote:

That is what I'd get! (I have the 100-400 L)

It is tempting indeed... Currently though I am having a buyer's remorse before I have even made the purchase! LOL, this is difficult.

Earthlight

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technic
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to Earthlight, Mar 30, 2012

Earthlight wrote:

technic wrote:

keep in mind that for close focus (1.5m) you need the 4/300IS, not the older 4/300. This makes it the number one on my list for (flying) dragonflies, as Steve mentioned. Small birds require about the same magnifications ...

So true... maybe I could get away with a 25 mm extension tube? That situation would probably occur when shooting from a hide, so an extension tube would be easy to use: the birds would more or less always be at the same distance.

Works only when you know beforehand what shooting range you are going to use. I used a 25mm extension tube for my 2.8/200, because it doesn't focus close enough for dragonflies. But in real shooting it is a big problem, you have to mount/unmount the extension tube constantly

After buying a Sigma 2.8/150 macro, I have never used the extension tube on the 2.8/200 again, I just take the Sigma for closeups ... Unfortunately the Sigma is just 150mm which is too short for me, and the 4/300IS seems the best combination of

tele reach and macro reach. The 1.5m close focus is just what I need for dragons-in-flight, if I can get much closer I might as well use the Sigma 150.

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R2D2
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to Earthlight, Mar 30, 2012

Earthlight wrote:

So, I have just decided I need a tele.

First, really nice photos there. I especially like the framing of the chickadee (one of my favorite birds to shoot).

IMHO I really think the 300mm f4L IS is the best choice for your particular shooting situation. It's an absolutely amazing performer when shooting up close and personal. It's best at small birds within say 15 feet, medium birds (ducks, gulls etc) within 25 feet, and large birds (raptors, wading birds etc) within mebbe say 75 feet.

Also I think that you'll find the extra stop of lens speed (over the 70-300L) very useful when shooting birds. Birds tend to move a lot, and breezes ruffle feathers. AF in this lens is good, and you'll get a stop or two of help from the IS in lower light.

Did I mention it's a great close focuser?!

Myself, I'd definitely choose the 300 f4L IS over the 400 f5.6L with extension tube for close work (which I also own). Keep in mind that you lose even more light when adding tubes (you lose a stop already, going from an f4 to an f5.6 lens). For longer work though, I'd absolutely recommend the 400 over the 300 or 300 + TC. So you might also start thinking toward the future when you start venturing out into the "wild" looking for birds. There, the 400 f5.6's reach really matters a lot.

As far as adding a TC to a 200mm lens, I wouldn't even consider it. Not when you have the 300mm f4L IS in the mix. It's that good up close.

I have some pics from both the 300 and 400 (with and without TCs) in my galleries. I note what equipment was used, and EXIF is intact. Hope this helps a bit. I know it's a hard choice! Good luck!

http://www.pbase.com/jekyll_and_hyde

R2

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Earthlight
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Re: 300mm conundrum
In reply to R2D2, Mar 30, 2012

Hello R2D2 and thanks for the thoughtful reply! See my comments below.

R2D2 wrote:

First, really nice photos there. I especially like the framing of the chickadee (one of my favorite birds to shoot).

Thanks! I know it as a hömötiainen (willow tit) and it is a most sympathetic creature!

IMHO I really think the 300mm f4L IS is the best choice for your particular shooting situation. It's an absolutely amazing performer when shooting up close and personal. It's best at small birds within say 15 feet, medium birds (ducks, gulls etc) within 25 feet, and large birds (raptors, wading birds etc) within mebbe say 75 feet.

It is a great lens indeed. I used to have the non-IS version long time ago. I used it with the original EOS-1 film camera and I even have a couple of slides of dragonflies shot with it!

Also I think that you'll find the extra stop of lens speed (over the 70-300L) very useful when shooting birds. Birds tend to move a lot, and breezes ruffle feathers. AF in this lens is good, and you'll get a stop or two of help from the IS in lower light.

Indeed. Max aperture is everything. I would mostly shoot off a tripod though. My Manfrotto 028 is plenty sturdy. For some reason I have never really gotten the IS lust. I have had one IS lens and I was always forgetting to turn it off on a tripod and then I would worry about damaging the system. I guess I am oldschool in that sense.

Did I mention it's a great close focuser?!

Yeah

Myself, I'd definitely choose the 300 f4L IS over the 400 f5.6L with extension tube for close work (which I also own). Keep in mind that you lose even more light when adding tubes (you lose a stop already, going from an f4 to an f5.6 lens). For longer work though, I'd absolutely recommend the 400 over the 300 or 300 + TC. So you might also start thinking toward the future when you start venturing out into the "wild" looking for birds. There, the 400 f5.6's reach really matters a lot.

You are correct of course. Then there is the thing that I like to shoot the moon and there the 400 is great. Add a TC and it only gets better. I crave to do more this kind of stuff with the 400.

As far as adding a TC to a 200mm lens, I wouldn't even consider it. Not when you have the 300mm f4L IS in the mix. It's that good up close.

I think so too. I will sell my 70-200 f4 L. After all, I have the 100 macro and the 135 f2 L. Plus I have a cropper and a full frame camera, so that adds some practical flexibility. A longer prime would be a meaningful addition.

I have some pics from both the 300 and 400 (with and without TCs) in my galleries. I note what equipment was used, and EXIF is intact. Hope this helps a bit. I know it's a hard choice! Good luck!

http://www.pbase.com/jekyll_and_hyde

Thanks for the link! Some excellent shots there! I am thinking more and more about the 400 5.6. After a long serene period, I now have lens lust again!

Good judgment comes from experience.
Experience comes from bad judgment.

LOL! I love that signature!

Earthlight

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Earthlight
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I have an announcement to make... :-D
In reply to Earthlight, Mar 30, 2012

Okay... in a flash of temporary (?) insanity I have just hit the order button on a brand spanking new 400 5.6 L.

So my 300 mm conundrum finally had an easy answer. LOL!

I will certainly report back as soon as I get the new lens!

Earthlight

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